Wednesday, April 27

Gaza, Guns & Passover Blessings

Amid Passover week's holiday celebrations and festive Seder meals marking the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, Israel is more and more deeply riven over another impending exodus; that of some 8500 Israeli residents of the southern Gaza Strip, who, after over 30 years and with families, bag, baggage and even graves, are slated – so far, at least – to be pulled back into Israel proper over the summer in the government’s deeply disputed “Disengagement Plan.”

The Israeli Army plans to collect weaponry once-issued to the settlers, reportedly in an effort to head off feared violence towards security forces. But when I asked New York-born Anita Tucker, a farmer and veteran resident of the Netzer Hazani community - a community expected to turned over to the Palestinians, she dismissed the idea out of hand terming it Israeli government "psy-ops" against the settlers intended to break their spirit. An audio link to her comments is further below. Do give a listen; I will post the rest of the interview in a day or two.

Meanwhile, at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City, the annual Passover collective priestly blessing - Birkat Hacohenim - of thousands of Jewish worshippers assembled on the plaza’s took place Tuesday morning.

Photos of the event are posted in the next few entries; scroll down and make sure to click on the picture itself to see the full-sized version. I shot the pics in RAW format and saved in TIFF (which means "freakin' humgeous files - 17 meg apiece," to the rest of us non-digital photo mavens...) and nipped 'n' tucked in Photoshop so they're real hi-rez, even when saved for the web in compressed .JPG format. I work and slave over a hot laptop all the livelong day so you can just enjoy, and what, what thanks do I get... hmmmph.

And now back to the English - language portion of our regularly scheduled blog...

Jews from the four corners of the earth, who trace their lineage back to Moses and his brother Aaron who led the Children of Israel out of slavery and into the Promised Land, stand garbed in ghostly white prayer-shawls with heads bowed and hands outspread soon after sunrise, and recite the ancient cadences:

May the Lord Bless and Keep You
May the Lord Cause His Countenance to Shine Upon You and Bless You
May the Lord Turn His Face to You and Bless you With Peace

Many Israelis from across the political and religious spectrum, fearing civil war perhaps no less than Palestinian attacks into Israel after the pullout, are deeply hoping that those words won’t have been chanted in vain.

Click here for the audio version of this entry, with Tucker's comments, and actuality (sounds from the scene) at the Western Wall - make sure your speakers are turned on:

That file is stored here:

Cross posted at


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